Khaltsha boys jet to Mauritius to show off their skills

Likho Petersen and Siyanda Maphukatha together with their parents and close relatives at the Cape Town International Airport before their departure to Mauritius. The proud parents are adamant that their children will learn one or two things in another country.

Two rising soccer stars from Khayelitsha flew out of the country on Friday November 29 to a youth tournament in Mauritius to show off their fancy footwork and ball skills.

Their families, under difficult conditions had managed to raise R31 500 needed for their trip.

As part of the South African Schools Football Association, the boys, Likho Petersen and Siyanda Maphukata will be out of the country until Saturday December 14 and will spend their time competing in a tournament there.

They were excited because it was going to be their first time on a plane.

Little did they know about the sacrifices their parents had made to give them the opportunity, among them making loans to cover the costs of the trip.

Likho, 12, has been playing soccer since the age of six and is the engine of the team now.

The Grade 6 pupil at Prestwich Primary in Cape Town was excited to have made the team to play in the tournament away from home.

He and his neighbour Siyanda, 14, a Grade 8 pupil at Bridgetown High, were both ecstatic at the airport and before boarding the flight to Mauritius, Likho could not stop talking about how he planned to run all over the field to give a good impression and show people from other countries how good South Africans are on the field.

“I have never been to another country. I am excited about the chance that came my way. This means so much to me. I will gather information and experiences from other children and use it back home,” he chuckled.

His teammate, however, despite being all smiles and excited about the trip, admitted he had mixed emotions about leaving behind his family. But, he said: “We are off to compete and make our team, families and ourselves proud.”Likho’s father Siphiwo Petersen said he could not be more proud of the boys.

Mr Petersen said while the trip had left them penniless, it was worth making a difference in the lives of the children.

He said raising money in short space of time from August until recently had been a mountain to overcome. “We had to borrow money and now we are in debt. I think next time such events take place, there should be sponsors organised.

“Imagine children of unemployed parents trying to raise such huge amounts of funds. That is not on. But we had to try our level best for children,” he said.

He, however, felt positive that the boys would make their mark in Mauritius.

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